Higher Education

The Best American Essays, 6th Edition

  • Robert Atwan Curry College
  • ISBN-10: 1439083878  |  ISBN-13: 9781439083871
  • 464 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2004, 2001
  • © 2011 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $98.25
  • Newer Edition Available
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THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, Sixth College Edition, presents highly regarded contemporary authors at their best. The essays are thematically arranged and selected from the popular trade series of the same name. They also cover common rhetorical modes, including narration and argumentation, providing instructors optimal flexibility with respect to course approach. In the introduction, Robert Atwan offers an overview of various types of essays to prepare students for the readings that follow. To further prepare students, "Essayists on the Essay" offers insightful commentaries about the genre from many of today's top writers.

Features and Benefits

  • The "Essayists on the Essay" section features well-known writers sharing their perspectives on writing and reading essays. This section contains a collection of commentaries from guest editors of the trade series, including Annie Dillard, Joseph Epstein, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Justin Kaplan.
  • Each selection is preceded by a biographical headnote and followed by a brief set of questions for class discussion or writing.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Prologue.
Anwar F. Accawi, "The Telephone". Marcia Aldrich, "Hair". Judith Ortiz Cofer, "Silent Dancing". Rich Cohen, "Becoming Adolph". Edwidge Danticat, "Westbury Court". Yusef Komunyakaa," The Blue Machinery of Summer". Rebecca McClanahan, "Book Marks"
Scott Russell Sanders, "The Inheritance of Tools". Lauren Slater, "Tripp Lake" Janna Malamud Smith, "Shipwrecked". Amy Tan, "Mother Tongue". Ryan Van Meter, "First".
Annie Dillard, "Stunt Pilot". Brian Doyle, "Joyas Voladoras". Kitty Burns Florey, "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog". Ian Frazier, "A Lovely Sort of Lower Purpose". Patricia Hampl, "The Dark Art of Description". Ariel Levy, "The Lesbian Bride's Handbook". Barry Lopez, "The Stone Horse". Kyoko Mori, "Yarn". Joyce Carol Oates, "They All Just Went Away"
Susan Orlean, "Lifelike". David Sedaris, "This Old House". Gay Talese, "Ali in Havana".
Alan M. Dershowitz, "Shouting 'Fire!'". Anne Fadiman, "Mail". George Gessert, "An Orgy of Power". Vicki Hearne, "What's Wrong with Animal Rights". Garret Keizer, "Loaded". Jamaica Kincaid, "On Seeing England for the First Time". Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Our Vanishing Night". Michael Lewis, "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable". Danielle Ofri, "Living Will". Roger Scruton, "A Carnivore's Credo". Peter Singer, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty". Edward O. Wilson, "Apocalypse Now".

What's New

  • Thirteen New Readings: Rich Cohen, "Becoming Adolph"; Lauren Slater, "Tripp Lake"; Janna Malamud Smith, "Shipwrecked"; Ryan Van Meter, "First"; Patricia Hampl, "The Dark Art of Description"; Ariel Levy, "The Lesbian Bride's Handbook"; David Sedaris, "This Old House"; George Gessert, "An Orgy of Power"; Garret Keizer, "Loaded"; Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Our Vanishing Night"; Michael Lewis, "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable"; Roger Scruton, "A Carnivore's Credo"; Edward O. Wilson, "Apocalypse Now."
  • An updated prologue features key remarks on writing.
  • A comprehensive, student-produced interview with Atwan includes the author's commentary, as well as his thoughts on many elements of the writing process.

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: The Best American Essays, 6th + The Concise Wadsworth Handbook, Untabbed Version, 3rd

ISBN-10: 1111424667 | ISBN-13: 9781111424664

List Price = $140.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $104.50

This Bundle Includes:

  • The Best American Essays
    List Price = $130.95  | CengageBrain Price = $130.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $98.25
  • The Concise Wadsworth Handbook, Untabbed Version
    List Price = $56.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $42.75


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Resource Manual  (ISBN-10: 1439086184 | ISBN-13: 9781439086186)

Located on a password-protected faculty companion website, this interactive online instructor's resource manual provides instructor's resources and discussion points for the essays.

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Robert Atwan

Since the inception of THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS in 1986 as a trade book title, Robert Atwan has been series editor. He has published reviews and essays in a range of periodicals and edited many other literature anthologies. Atwan most recently edited two collections of poetry with a biblical theme: CHAPTERS INTO VERSE by Oxford University Press and DIVINE INSPIRATION by Oxford University Press.